She seemed to come out of nowhere and in May 2011 she suddenly
appeared: a rising star in the American-Irish singer-songwriter scene,
Ciara Sidine. Her debut Shadow Road Shining (MWCD 1024) surprised
connoisseurs and outsiders alike. Her sound has been described as
‘Americana with an unmistakeably Celtic feel to its poetic lyrics and confident
Unbroken Line is her second album. It sees Sidine employ her remarkable vocal
range to present songs which offer an often searing critique of the past and present of
Irish society, interspersed with material evoking the languid warmth of mid-20th century
female singers such as Billie Holiday.
Unbroken Line is an album for our times. Suffused with themes of social justice,
Sidine’s songs range from reclaiming the voices of women from Ireland’s Mother and
Baby Homes (‘Finest Flower’) to the ongoing fight for women’s bodily autonomy
(‘Trouble Come Find Me’), through to anger at a church that refuses to take
responsibility for its crimes against children (‘Let the Rain Fall’), and on to a playful
song about love and equality (‘Lemme Drive Your Train’).
Unlike the path more traditionally tread by Irish songwriters, of working in a
recognisably homegrown idiom, Sidine draws on the americana-roots and country-blues
genres to explore themes which, though framed by an undeniably local social and
political landscape, make for a fresh take on an established sound, creating a
compelling journey into territories diverse yet united; familiar yet new.
Thanks to her literary background - she is an editor in the book publishing
industry - Sidine’s lyrics are poetic and emotionally resonant. But the biggest surprise is
her voice, crystal clear, pure and versatile, leaving you defenceless and deeply moved.
Unbroken Line is co-produced by Sidine and Conor Brady, the cream of Irish
musicians feature on the record including Brady himself (Toots and the Maytals,
Terence Trent D’Arby and George Martin), Robbie Malone (David Gray), Dave Hingerty
(The Frames/Swell Season), Justin Carroll (Van Morrison) and revered Irish blues and
country guitarist NC Lawlor.
Sidine’s singing has drawn comparisons to Maria McKee, Alison Krauss, Emmylou
Harris and, closer to home, Mary Black, but her style is very much her own. Unbroken
Line is a remarkable showcase of this.
Acclaimed Irish writer Joseph O’Connor was inspired to write a poem, ‘Sidine
Street’, on hearing Unbroken Line.